Tuesday, October 29, 2013
A couple of weeks months ago (where did the fall go?!), I surprised Bryan with a getaway to Asheville, North Carolina for his 30th birthday. One of my best friends lives in Charlotte and has been telling me what a great little city Asheville is for years, but I always figured I’d just go whenever we end up planning a girls weekend down there. I hadn’t thought about it as a possibility for this birthday getaway until I stumbled across the fact that Asheville is known for its breweries. Charming, laid back city + mountains + driving distance + dog friendly + BEER = perfect spot to take the hubs!
“Weekend getaway” is kind of a misnomer – we actually took the trip Wednesday evening through Saturday because of plans on Sunday morning (plus we got to be away for his actual birthday on Thursday). The drive from Northern Virginia is nearly 7 hours, so to break up the drive a little and save some cash, I decided to camp out a night on the drive down at Hungry Mother State Park. The name made me giggle, until I learned that it’s named after a story about a mother who collapsed from hunger. Her child went to go find help, exclaimed “hungry mother” when she found people, then they came back to find the mother dead. So…yeah… the name is actually really depressing.
We arrived at the campground Wednesday evening, made a campfire, enjoyed some dinner, s’mores, and pumpkin ales, then called it a night. We left early the next morning, when the lake was still blanketed in fog so we really didn’t see much of the park.
|Camping at Hungry Mother State Park|
We finished up the last couple hours of the drive on Thursday morning (crossing from Virginia to Tennessee to North Carolina – does that surprise you too, or is my geography just that bad?). We checked in at the Aloft in downtown Asheville. Aloft hotels are amazing when traveling with a dog – not only is there no pet fee (so rare!), but they also give you dog bed and bowls to use free of charge, and this particular one also included a treat from a local doggy bakery and had a convenient dog walk area on the 3rd floor. Even if you don’t have a dog, I’d recommend this Aloft – it was in a great location right downtown and the people were amazing. We got a free upgrade to a mountain view room with a balcony (we had paid for the cheaper city view), and they gave us two free drink coupons to use at the bar with a happy birthday note to Bryan.
|View from our room at the Aloft|
After we checked in on Thursday, we started wandering around the city. We had lunch at Mellow Mushroom. I generally try to avoid chains when traveling, but they had a large outdoor patio where Smokey was welcome and the birthday boy thought pizza for lunch sounded good. They even gave him a some honey drizzled dough for dessert that was shaped like a mushroom as a birthday treat.
After lunch we wandered down to the River Arts District to go to the Wedge Brewing Company. The Wedge was another spot with a lot of outdoor space where dogs were welcome. We enjoyed a few beers and played some yeti-themed cornhole, while Smokey got to relax outside with us – definitely a brewery worth checking out. That night we took it easy, and spent a good chunk of it watching the (depressing!) Ravens-Broncos game at Hannah Flanagan’s Irish Pub.
|An afternoon of pizza & beer left us with a tired pup in the evening|
On Friday morning, we had breakfast at Twisted Crepe (yum!), then went to the Biltmore Estate. It’s a stunning place to visit, but it’s pretty expensive, especially if (like us) you just want to take a quick peek around the house rather than making it an all-day event (which you certainly could if you wanted). If you plan to go, buy your tickets online at least a week in advance to get a discounted rate. Admission also includes a tasting at the winery, although since Bryan’s not into wine, we just stopped in for a minute and I bought a bottle rather than making him sit through the tasting (considering it was his birthday and all…).
|The grounds of the Biltmore (no photos allowed inside)|
We spent some much appreciated post-Labor Day time at the Aloft pool in the early afternoon before heading to the next brewery. This time we went to Burial Beer Co. This brewery had just opened a few months prior but was already a great one to visit. Outdoor space, complete with cornhole, was available here too, and dogs were even welcome inside the brewery. For dinner, we went to Curate, a tapas bar that was highly recommended (for good reason!) by my Charlotte friend – definitely my favorite meal of the trip! On the short walk back to the hotel, we stopped at Double D’s – a double decker bus parked permanently on Biltmore Ave – for dessert.
|Drinks, dinner, & dessert with some extra relaxation in between (sorry for the grainy phone pics here)|
On Saturday, we left the city and went to Chimney Rock State Park. I figured we’d do a hiking day on the way out, and Chimney Rock was sorta, kinda on the way home and easy to tackle in a short time period. Most of the trails involve a lot of staircases, so it wasn’t really true hiking, but the rocks and the views were amazing, and it was perfect for a quick dose of nature and exercise before our long drive home.
|Chimney Rock State Park|
Asheville was a great place to visit for a little getaway, and I’m ready to go back again! I love its artsy, hippie vibe, and there’s lots to see & do. It was so easy to walk everywhere (particularly helpful when brewery hopping!), and it was great that we were able to bring Smokey along almost everywhere we went (seriously, he even got invited to come in when we stopped at a drugstore!).
Have you been to Asheville before? Or on any fun getaways recently?